Last year, you may remember, I was in Padua searching for its most famous traditional cake whilst waiting for the rain to stop. It was almost impossible to find the pazientina but a long search led me to one of the last patisseries still making it and the only one I could find. Imagine my surprise then when a few days ago I came across the cake in Venice.
Venice is a city that most experience on foot. Even those residents that have boats do an awful lot of walking and most of that on unforgiving flagstones, and bridges that rise and fall five feet in space of a few yards.
With all that walking, especially in the summer when temperatures regularly top 30 degrees celsius, it would seem a good idea to stop every now and again, pop into a shady bar, and have a drink and perhaps a restorative bite. Well, Venetians would agree and this is how cichéti a typically Venetian snack food came to be.
See Naples and … well, eat! As well as having the reputation for being one of the most lively and naturally beautiful cities in Italy, Naples is also considered by Italians to be one of the foodie centers of the peninsula. I recently spent a weekend in the shadow of Vesuvius and here are my top five must eats if you are visiting the city.
It’s black summer truffle season here in the Tuscan Valtiberina and these alternative fruits of the forest are everywhere. Less pungent than in some other areas of Italy they are often served grated over pasta or grilled meat in abundance. There’s one restaurant in the village where the set menu looks like its own truffle festival with the antipasti, primi, and secondi all featuring this local treasure. I’ve yet to discover a dessert using black truffle—chocolate truffle is, of course, something quite different—but watch this space.
Last week I was invited by Eating Italy Food Tours to take part in their new guided tour, The Other Side of Florence. The tour covers two quarters of the Oltrarno area, San Frediano and Santo Spirito on the southern side of the river, and area not usually visited by tourists despite their proximity to the city centre. Most people cross the river only to visit the Pitti Palace, or Brancacci Chapel before returning to the bright lights of the northern side of the river. But in the Oltrarno area you find the real Florence: an area which has surprisingly managed to avoid gentrification to retain its character.
At this time of year the hedgerows around Caprese Michelangelo turn white with what seem to be bunches of tiny snowflakes. Luckily they are not since subzero temperatures in May would not be welcome. They are in fact fiori di sambuco or elderflowers. As well as looking pretty, they have a sweet, delicate fragrance that you’d wish you could bottle and take home with you.